Top Ten Books Dealing With Tough Subjects

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

I’M SO EXCITED I’M BACK TO DOING THESE! It actually required the CAPS. I’ve been away at school for so long and so busy that these have been impossible because I wasn’t able to visit all the blogs that visited me. But now I’m home and finals are over and I’M BACK!

This Top 10 list is probably the weirdest, most eclectic list I’ve ever put together, mostly because I’m not ashamed to admit I usually avoid books entirely about tough subjects. These are most certainly not all young adult books, and some of them are historical fiction because why cheat halfway?

whiteoleander1. White Oleander by Janet Fitch

I was given this book at way too young an age, but the details of the story stuck with me. This book is a visceral showing of the foster care system, neglecting mothers, violence and sex. I honestly can’t believe I finished it.

2. Beloved by Toni Morrisonbeloved

This is a classic for a reason. It makes this list because I didn’t expect it to affect me as much as it did. What do I know about slavery or rape or killing my own children? Nothing, thank God. But this book made my stomach churn and my eyes water and left me thinking, hard.

Who I Kissed3. Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Look, a young adult book! When I heard the premise of this book–that the main character kills a boy with a kiss because there was peanut oil in her lipstick and he was allergic–I wasn’t sure it was going to go over well with me. I wasn’t sure it would work. But there is a real dealing with of grief throughout this book, both in terms of the main character, the victim’s family and even the main character relating this to her dead mother. It worked much better than I thought.

4. Nerve by Jeanne RyanNerve

I didn’t read this for handling of tough subjects, but I got it. Throughout this story, the main character deals with peer pressure, how far you’ll go for fame – and what happens when a room full of teens are given guns and told only one survives. My stomach was rolling with the action, and it stuck with me long after.

League of Strays5. League of Strays by L. B. Schulman

I’m still not sure how I feel about this book, but one thing’s for sure: this is one of the more candid, stomach churning pictures of bullying I’ve allowed myself to read.

6. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarryPushing the Limits

The levels of adoration I have for this book are limitless. Despite the fact that this is billed as a contemporary romance, it really is so much more. The themes of family, love (besides relationship!) and healing after a huge traumatic incident are really strong and truly touching.

Code Name Verity7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Technically, this is historical fiction. Personally, I think this is about so much more. I mean, the tagline is “I have two weeks. You’ll shoot me at the end no matter what I do.” This book deals with the bonds of friendship and the horrors of war all in one. I mean, the book OPENS with the main character being interrogated by the Gestapo. I very rarely cry for books, but this is one of those times.

8. The Last Song by Nicholas SparksThe Last Song

I know that these books are pretty cookie cutter and all, but this book had such a personal bent for me that by the end of the book I was bawling my eyes out. I still can’t read about the character of the little brother without sniffling.

mistress of rome9. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

Okay, this is historical fiction, so I’m kind of cheating. I mean, these “tough subjects” are somebody’s life. However, what I was struck by was a rather smaller part of the book, which is the physical and sexual abuse that Thea goes through at the hands of the Emperor. It was striking in how little it was underscore.

10. Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Uccistreams of babel

I had almost forgotten about these books before I went looking for ones to fill this list, and now I’m struck with the need to read them all over again. These books are striking examples of what happens when you find yourself at Death’s door, when your mother overdoses and leaves you to die on your own and just about love in the face of death in general. Both it and it’s sequel just floored me.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Historical Fiction Books

Over at the lovely The Broke and the Bookish blog, they run a feature called “Top Ten Tuesday.” Because I have been meaning to get in on this for AGES, I finally managed to set down and get myself to DO it. I decided to take the prompt and do my Top Ten Historical Fiction books, because I just recently found myself back on this kick. It should be noted that I read mostly Egyptian and Tudor England books, hence the lack of variety on the list. 😛 (All links will go to the book’s Goodreads page so you can read more about them.)

1. The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

If you enjoy Egyptian historical fiction and have NOT read this book, there is something seriously wrong with you. Not kidding. This one deals with Nefertari, the beloved queen of Ramses the Great. It also postulates a few things that could have been possible to make the history more interesting, which will only make sense to you if you read…

2. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Self explanatory as to which Pharaoh and Queen this one deals with. This was Moran’s first book, and the one that really got me interested in the Armana period in the first place. Gorgeously done, as always.

3. The Queen’s Governess by Karen Harper

I’ll admit, I was tentative about going into a book narrated by Queen Elizabeth’s governess Kat Ashley, but this was a surprise find I was very happy with.

4. Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

Okay, yeah, I kind of hero-worship Moran. This one was her last Egyptian novel in a while, sadly, but it opened my eyes to a whole new story I had never realized existed: the story of Cleopatra’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene, and the rest of Cleopatra’s kids. I don’t know why this was a group of figures I never looked into before, because these poor kids were the only people left to deal with the fallout of their parents death and the Roman’s anger. Seriously. Read it.

5. The King’s Rose by Alisa M. Libby

I had never really been a fan of Catherine Howard, and in fact she was my least favorite of Henry VIII’s 6 wives. However, this book was done really well, and I actually started connecting with her. As always–and probably truthfully–she is depicted as vain and vapid, but she had other characteristics in this book that make her into a real, young girl who was placed in a powerful, dangerous situation.

6. Mistress of Rome by Kate Quinn

To this day, I have no idea why I picked up this book, since I usually avoid Roman history, but I’m glad I did. Not only was this a different kind of story, but it was also a historical with a real STORY hidden beneath all the layers. Some historicals read like a history book, especially when dealing with well written characters, so this was a refreshing read with a new story for me.

7. The Red Queen’s Daughter by Jaqueline Kolosov

Mostly recommended for young readers, this was another story I had never thought to look into. Catherine Parr’s young daughter with Thomas Seymour is thought to have died around the age of three or so, but this imagines what if she didn’t. PLUS, it adds in some elements of witchcraft and magic, which was equally awesome.

8. Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter (this link goes to my review)

This is another retelling of the story of Cleopatra’s daughter Cleopatra Selene, which I found to be quite different from Moran’s version. This version of Selene is even more kick butt, and–since the facts surrounding her and her brothers are so few–Shecter was able to imagine a whole new story plotline that was engaging even though I’d read Cleopatra’s Daughter before.

9. Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

I’ve never been a fan of Weir’s writing style for the most part, or really cared about Jane Grey, but this book just had me feeling everything for the “Nine Day Queen.” I had never really thought about what she thought, or what she went through, but this book really connected me.

10. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

I’m usually a sucker for Gregory’s books, but the Queen’s Fool is definitely one of my favorites. Few people are ever really sympathetic to Mary Tudor, so I found that really interesting. Also, usually Gregory goes from the point of view of a well-known historical figure, but this time she uses the POV of a made up girl with the power of Sight (seeing the future) which made it doubly interesting. Gregory connected the story to Mary and Elizabeth, but also let the main character tell her own.

So now you know MY top 10 – what are yours, and do you have any recommendations for me?